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Caps on agency spend to expand beyond nursing

Health secretary demands end to NHS 'rip-off'

A new cap on charges for all agency staff is aimed at further clamping down on NHS spending following a ruling which applied specifically to nurses.

The Department for Health (DoH) announced today (Tuesday 13) that from November 23; doctors, non-clinical staff and interim managers will be subject to a limit on how much they are paid per hour.

The health secretary Jeremy Hunt is seeking to end the practice of agencies charging £1,800 for a standard shift for a nurse and £3,500 for a weekend shift for a doctor and believes the new measures will reduce spending by £1billion in the next three years.

Last year according to DoH the NHS spent £3.3billion on agency staff, more than the cost of all that year’s 22m A&E admissions combined.

Caps on agency nurse spending came into force on the first of this month having been unveiled in June. Meanwhile on Monday (October 19) new frameworks will also take effect that will force trusts to use only approved agencies.

The price caps are supported by clinical leaders in the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and NHS England.

Trusts will be able to override caps where it is felt absolutely necessary to protect patient safety. However such requests will be subject to scrutiny by Monitor and the NHS Trust Development Authority.

Mr Hunt said: ‘For too long staffing agencies have been able to rip off the NHS by charging extortionate hourly rates which cost billions of pounds a year and undermine staff working hard to deliver high-quality care.’

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